Hey cHEwY gum gums!

It’s that time of the year again, where we look ahead to the next one. I’ve printed out my 2022 calendar (yes I am old school and cheap haha) and have pencilled in a few dates. A few weeks have been blocked out for interstate tours. A few festivals are locked and confirmed.

Surely next year things will go back to normal!

This feeling does feel like deja vu 🙂

But I can confidently say that things will mostly go back to somewhat normal. Maybe. Let’s wait and see.

I can only speak from my perspective as an author who was hammered by a severe lockdown that knocked out a fair chunk of my primetime bookings in Term 3. I know things were pretty much smooth, outside of NSW and VIC. But here’s what I think 2022 will look like for myself, and other authors who rely on touring for income (and to sell/promote books).

Virtual School visits are here to stay

I won’t be cancelling up my ZOOM pro subscription just yet. One silver lining out of this pandemic has been the proof that you can work from home. After 2 years of virtual author visits and workshops, it’s not that bad. I’ve definitely been thankful for each one, especially the ones from other states, because I couldn’t be there in person such as Once Upon A Festival in Adelaide. Schools know that they will always have the virtual option as a back up, as a way to save costs on travel/accommodation for authors, and a way to nab well-known authors who don’t tour extensively, but are happy to have a chat from the comfort of their homes. Some authors have even skilled up, producing professional videos, online programs and packages that they can sell to anyone. I’ll never knock back a gig, so if they want the virtual Oliver P experience, then I’m all for it.

There will be high demand for in-person school visits

A lot of teacher-librarians opted to postpone my school visits until next year, when I can be there in person. I’ll always be an advocate for in-person over virtual, given the choice. In-person author visits suit my style. I have plush toys and props. I’m a comedian who thrives on laughter and energy, so I am drawn to a live audience. I think schools will be keen to have in-person author visits, because of novelty of ZOOM has died, and kids have had their fair share of screens.

In-person school visits will never be quite the same…

It’s more than just the usual covid-normal things like checking in with QR codes and wearing masks. I think my actual talk will change. It has to, I can’t go up to kids’ faces and shove a toy in their face. I can’t get a kid to come up and wear my Darth Vader Mask for a skit. While some segments can be modified, I’ve lost the ability to be up close and personal to kids, which is something I pride myself on, being high-energy and crazy. I remember running up and down with dinosaur claws, roaring at kids and scaring them. No more. I mean, the upside will be that I won’t get sick (from the usual cold or flu). But yes, there will be a little bit of awkwardness as kids swarm over to me, asking for autographs, grabbing my plushies and I’ll just have to telepathically ask the teacher-librarian if that’s okay. Schools are little micro-worlds anyway, what might be okay in one school, may not be allowed in another. It depends how strict each school is. I’m happy to jump through any admin hoops, as long as I can be around kids, whether it’s 1.5 metres apart or not.


About the author

I'm an author, stand-up comedian and teacher. My books include Thai-riffic!, Con-nerd, Punchlines and The Other Christy. I'm a massive Nintendo fan and love eating burgers. Follow me on Twitter or Instagram @oliverwinfree

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